tv Meet the Press MSNBC June 16, 2013 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
this sunday, are we ramping up for war in syria? how far will president obama go to stop the bloodshed? a red line crossed by the assad regime. confirmation this week that chemical weapons were used. the president agrees to start arming the syrian rebels. but as the war reaches staggering heights, more than 90,000 killed so far. what is the strategy? and the limit of u.s. involvement? joining me the senior senator from south carolina, republican lindsey graham. also, the surveillance to date. what's next for edward snowden? and what's the future of the government's sweeping counterterror program? with us, two key voices from the
senate intelligence committee, vice chair saxby chambliss. and mark u daul. broader questions raised by the leaks. is snowden a hero or a traitor? how much political damage has been done? and is this the dawn of a new age of big brother? >> announcer: from nbc news in washington, the world's longest running television program, this is "meet the press." with david gregory. >> good sunday morning, as the president prepares to depart this evening for the g-8 summit in another ireland. in iran, celebrations in the streets after a moderate was elected president. we'll be talking about that. quite a different scene in turkey. tear gas and clubs to clear protesters from a public square there. news out of jordan this morning, where king abdullah warning that
the king doll will fight with the growing conflict in neighboring syria. and the conflict in syria will be top of mind at the g-8 summit. president obama sitting down face-to-face with russian president vladimir putin tomorrow. that will be a difficult discussion. they are at odds over syria. we've got a key voice in the debate over what the next steps should be in the area, senator lindsey graham in south carolina. here in the studio andrea mitchell. and columnist for the "washington post" david ignatius. good morning to all of you. senator graham, let me start with you. the key step has been taken by this administration, the president saying he is now willing to arm the syrian rebels. >> right. >> so what is the goal, and how much closer to the goal does this step take us? >> i really don't know. it seems to be not being bush as our foreign policy. the goal should be to basically make sure assad leaves. last year assad was isolated.
he had very few friends. he was hanging by a thread. this year he's entrenched with hezbollah, iran, and russian, stronger behind him than ever. i think our goal should be in the short term to balance the military power, and provide small arms won't do it. we need to create a no-fly zone to neutralize the assad air power. >> you're saying this is too late, this is too little, that syrian rebels cannot prevail. >> right. >> with this step pi the administration? >> under this construct, they can't. what does it mean if they lose? syria's become a powder keg for the region. the kingdom is under siege in terms of refugees. hezbollah is all in, in syria. so lebanons even more destable. this has been a nightmare here for syria. egypt's going backwards. lebanon is becoming unstable. russia's introducing into syria,
threatening sophisticated weapons. the cache i fear the most could fall in the hands of hezbollah. a powder keg for the region. our policies are not working. ak-47s will not neutralize the advantage assad has over the rebels. we need to do more. >> so only by taking out assad can we have peace in this civil war? >> that's what the president says. >> what do you say? >> i say a political solution is the only way you solve this. and assad has to go to get a political solution. no rebel group's going to partition syria with assad still in power. yes, he has to go. then you find a political solution. if the war lasts six more months, jordan's got to go. israel will be surrounded by syria on fire. egypt becoming more radical. the whole region's about to blow up. and our foreign policy to me, i don't understand it. whatever it is, it's not
working. >> david ignatius, what forced the president's hand on this? >> i think when the decision that chemical weapons had been used by the assad regime was completed by the intelligence analysts and ready to go, it forced a decision that really already was made an embryo within the administration. i would add to what senator graham said. yes, our policy is to force assad to leave. but our policy at a deeper level is to build up the moderate opposition to assad. if assad left tomorrow, in a sense that would be bad for us. because the strongest forces in syria would be the jihadists. you would have complete chaos. in a sense you want to wait a little bit for these forces to get stronger, for the u.s. arms to flow through. i was told by my syrian sources that just in the last few days after this announcement, 60 syrian officers defected because they thought maybe there was a chance, six generals, 22 colonels, so there's a concrete side when the u.s. says we're with you. >> on the other side of that,
our colleague jeff goldberg making the point we're going to send small arms into syria. where are they going to go? we don't know who has guns in the united states. are we going to be able to track guns inside of syria? >> exactly. one of the questions that i think also precipitated this is iran. i think the administration had the intelligence about chemical wells and we're slow walking it. they were hoping they could get to a political negotiation geneva. now they've given up on that. they realized assad has gained so much strength with hezbollah, all in, if they went into negotiations now, there would be no way to remove him. moving on that red line, which they knew about, and britain and france had plenty of evidence of, they realize now they're at war with iran. with hezbollah and russian support, that there was no way that assad was going to lose. and in fact it wouldn't just be a stalemate, assad would win. the biggest problem they have going into the g-8, russia has
categorically denied it and the u.n. secretary-general agrees with russia. frankly, after the last decade, u.s. intelligence on weapons of mass destruction doesn't have a whole lot of credibility around the world. >> senator, back to you. the question and the stakes, or rather the consequences of staying on the sidelines. i mean, one of the things that is troubling i think to a lot of americans to hear you, and senator mccain, senator mccabe on the floor this week saying, look, we should have a no-fly zone, neutralize the advantages assad has. we could do that without risking a single american airplane. isn't that irresponsible, given the iraq experience, to say that we can take that first step on a slippery slope and it won't be that dangerous? >> i don't think so, david. no boots on the ground is sort of everyone's position, including mine, because the rebels don't want to send there. i think you can neutralize the air power with cruise missiles,
and a no-fly zone operating out of turkey and jordan to neutralize the air power. if the war continues, how likely is it iran will take us seriously when it comes to their nuclear program if we continue to act indecisively concerning assad's syria? look at what's happened over israel in the last year. the russians are not hesitating and helping assad. hezbollah helped take back a town the rebels had just a few weeks ago. so the balance of power is really now on assad's side. as andrea said, he's winning and it is not in our interests to win. if we don't do more than add ak-47s into the mix, he will continue to win. and the king of jordan is going to become toast. >> i just want to put up the staggering cost of this war. i mentioned it in the opening. let me put up a full screen graphic. we are talking about more than 90,000 syrians killed over the last couple of years. this is online with bosnia now,
as you look at that. and the number of kids under 10 years old being killed. it's very hard for americans to pay attention to something sectarian conflict so complicated and insoluble in some ways. >> those are the costs. a question for you, senator graham, i don't know how we resolve this, but if the jordanians with f-16s were to crater the runways with no-fly zones, how do we know where the chemical stockpiles are? how do we know if they're prepositioned on the runways? >> you asked me about my biggest fear of prolonged war, that the al qaeda elements of the rebels could wind up seizing the chemical wells cache. that they would advance russian weapons with hezbollah. all i can say is political negotiation can only happen when the calculations on the ground change militarily. and the only way you do that is
to stop the air power advantage assad has. there's no clear answers. i say there's bipartisan support for more involvement in the senate than six months ago. i think everybody in america who watches this, understands we can't just sit around and do nothing and give the rebels ak-47s. i think you can take the air power advantage over the table by using cruise missiles. they don't have to are jordanian in nature. >> senator, shouldn't politicians like you, shouldn't the president himself be more honest with the people and say, we are the slippery slope, that if in a few months the rebels that we supplied with these arms, heavy or light, are losing on the battlefield, that we'll have to do more, that we're committed to them, is that right? >> yes. >> what does that mean? >> well, i think there's two wars. the first war is to displace assad, to change the balance of military power, vis-a-vis assad so we can get a political
solution. the second war is to deal with the radical islamists who have flown in to aid the rebels. unfortunately you're going to have two wars. when assad falls, you'll have the war between the average syrian and al qaeda elements who have come into syria. here's the good news, david. i don't think the average syrian wants to displace assad and have an al qaeda state to replace him. these radical islamists are coming to the fight because of a security backing. they in my view do not represent the average syrian person. hezbollah, neither does al qaeda represent the average syrian. that's the good news. but they have to be fought. >> i just got a couple minutes left, senator. on a couple of other matters, edward snowden. is he a traitor in your mind and what would you like to see the administration do at this point to bring him back to face justice? >> bring him to justice and let a prosecutor make that decision, not a politician. i think what he did compromised our national security. i've got a very simple view of the world, and you can blame me for being simple in complex
times. i believe we should be listening to terrorists, known terrorists' e-mails, following their e-mails and following their phone calls. if they're e-mailing somebody in the united states or calling a number in the united states, i would like to get a judge's permission to monitor that phone call. if we don't do that, another attack on our homeland is very likely. we need this program. he's compromised it and needs to be held accountable. >> are you going to get a bill in the senate that is strong enough to get passage in the house? >> after this interview, i'm going to leave you on a positive note. i think we're going to have a political break-through that congress is going to pass immigration reform. i think we're going to get plus 70 votes. i've never been more optimistic about it. it would be great if we could pass immigration. and finally as to syria, there is a bipartisan coalition growing around senator menendez that understands we need to get more involved as a nation to prevent the spillover from syria into the entire region, taking
down all of our allies. >> one on politics. gathering of religious leaders in washington and potential of entrance into the 2016 race. chris christie was with bill clinton at cgi. who is, do you think, has the most momentum of your party representative of a state with an early primary? >> you know, that's a really good question. bill clinton doesn't have a whole lot of sway, but he's a popular figure. the faith-based groups were courted by probably leading candidates. i would suggest a guy like jeb bush would have a really good chance in 2016. a former governor. but you've got marco, you've got paul ryan. the good news is, we've got a deep bench. after eight years of president obama's policies, people are going to be looking around. but if we don't pass immigration reform and get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn't matter who you run in 2016, we're in a demographic spiral as a party and the only
way we can get back in good ra graces with the his panic community in my view is pass comprehension immigration reform. if you don't do that, it doesn't matter who we run, in my view. >> thank you. david, you wrote this weekend about the importance of backing moderate forces. >> yes. >> moderate has won in iran. >> this is a wild card in this very complicated middle east puzzle. suddenly we have tehran, a conflict in syria, a person as far as we can tell has been repudiating the foreign policies of the current government saying, you need to do negotiations more. you're too distant from the west. you're relying on russia and china. it's absolutely fascinating that we are going to have a man who's associated with the reformist wing in iran, in power as president. >> you're back in a couple of mists. we'll take on the debate over government surveillance. a former government contractor,
edward snowden, what's next for him, and how much damage did he do. and the house intelligence committee. a local skeptic of the program. mark udall of colorado. they are coming up next. look, every day we're using more and more energy. the world needs more energy. where's it going to come from? ♪ that's why right here, in australia, chevron is building one of the biggest natural gas projects in the world. enough power for a city the size of singapore for 50 years. what's it going to do to the planet? natural gas is the cleanest conventional fuel there is. we've got to be smart about this. it's a smart way to go. ♪
samsung galaxy s4.was telling you about, it's got a huge screen, does all kinds of cool stuff. and if you buy it here, you get a $50 walmart gift card. man, i gotta have this! get the latest smart phones on at&t's 4g lte network, and get a $50 gift card. walmart. foour neighbors.... and our communities... america's beverage companies have created... a wide range of new choices. developing smaller portion sizes and more.. low and no-calorie beverages... adding clear calorie labels so you know... exactly what you're choosing... and in schools, replacing full-calorie soft drinks... with lower-calorie options. with more choices and fewer calories... america's beverage companies are delivering.
coming up here, should more details about how the government collects data on american citizens be disclosed and released to the public? two key members of the senate intelligence committee, senator saxby chambliss and mark udall, will answer that question and more. every parent wants the safest and healthiest products
for their family. that's why i created the honest company. i was just a concerned mom, with a crazy dream. a wish that there was a company that i could rely on, that did all of the hard work for me. i'm jessica alba, and the honest company was my dream. [ male announcer ] legalzoom has helped a million businesses successfully get started, including jessica's. launch your dream at legalzoom today. call us. we're here to help. the world needs more energy. where's it going to come from? ♪ that's why right here, in australia, chevron is building one of the biggest natural gas projects in the world.
we are back. joining me the vice chair of the senate intelligence committee, republican senator from georgia, saxby chambliss. the democratic senator from colorado, mark udall. gentlemen, welcome to you both. senator chambliss, i want to pick up on the news this weekend over syria and the president's decision to start arming the syrian rebels. what is the end game and what limits do you think should be placed on what the united states does in syria? >> well, i don't think you can place any limits on it right now, david.
i do think it's imperative that assad be removed. it's pretty obvious that he is pretty well entrenched now. he's gone to the extreme of letting hezbollah have the run of syria. that is simply not good. while i know there are bad guys involved in the opposition rebels, we've done a pretty good job of ferreting out who are the good guys, or who are the more moderate guys within that opposition. and i'm certain that's who the president's talking about providing arms to. >> should the president go farther, in your judgment? >> well, i think that military alternatives have got to be examined almost day to day. and i assume that's what he's doing. if the military says that we need to implement a no-fly zone, we ought to do it right away. it's pretty obvious they're using air power to take out some of these 90,000 to 100,000 folks who are innocent people in syria that have been killed. a no-fly zone may be the ultimate tactic that has to be
taken. >> senator udall, what do you say? you have raised concerns about who exactly the arms would go to. and we have a pretty rough history with regard to that, when you this i about afghanistan trying to arm rebels and having those weapons used against us later on. deputy national security adviser in the white house, ben rhodes, answered that question this week. here's what he said. >> we have relationships today in syria that we didn't have six months ago, that gives us greater certainty not just to get stuff into the country, but also that we can put in the right hands. so it's not falling into the hands of the extremists. >> sno udall, do you believe him? >> i agree with senator graham, senator chambliss that we ought to ensure our goals of settlement. we've got to tie up the advanced and unconventional weapons over there. and we've got to make sure that al qaeda and other terrorist groups don't take root in syria. david, i'm open to all options. but i think that we ought to be
listening to the president, we ought to be listening to the military leadership. a no-fly zone and other involvement may lead to the slippery slope that others talk about. but this is a very dangerous, very fragile situation. if jordan falls, i fear for the region. >> let me ask you two about the other big debate back home over the nsa surveillance, and edward snowden. senator chambliss, is he a traitor? should ebe tried as a traitor back in this country? and what do you think is next for him? how hard is it going to be to get him back to face justice? >> well, it depends upon exactly what he's charged with. and the process is followed by the prosecutorial team. i'm going to leave it to them to decide whether or not he ought to be charged for treason. but i said earlier this week, if he's not a traitor, he's pretty darn close to it. and as far as getting him back here, he needs to look an american jury in the eye and explain why he has disclosed
sources and methods that are going to put american lives in danger. there's no question about it. we know now that because of his disclosure, that the terrorists, the bad guys around the world are taking some different tactics, and they know a little bit more about how we're gathering information on them. and i think it's important that we bring him to justice. >> are you skeptical, senator udall, of the government's claims, the head of the nsa saying this has done real damage, that it harms national security, and with these programs, that terrorist plots have been foiled? >> david, if i might take a moment before i answer your question, i did want to say that my thoughts are with all the victims of the wildfires we've had here in colorado. and i want to ensure them that i know the federal government will be there for them, just like the federal government was there for the victims of hurricane sandy and the recent tornadoes in oklahoma. we stand together as americans. i hope americans will send their prayers and thoughts out here to colorado. but let me turn to your
question. i am skeptical that the 215 business records program of the nsa is effective. we are talking about the p.r.i.s.m. program. it has been effective. it surveils foreigners who are interested in terrorist activity. but i have to tell you that on the 215 business records front, i don't think collecting millions and millions of americans' phone calls -- now, this is the meta data, time, place, to whom you direct the calls -- is making us any safer. i think it's ultimately perhaps a violation of the 14 amendment. i think we ought to have this debate. i'm going to introduce a bill this week that would narrow the reach of 215 to those who have a link to terrorism. a similar amendment passed in 2005. it had support from people like senator hagel, senator durbin and senator barack obama. i'd like to have that debate. it's important that the american public know what's being done in their name. >> it's very interesting,
because as some commentators this week have pointed out, those who are concerned about civil liberties, imagine their reaction if there were another 9/11 style attack. and what the american public would rise up to support in terms of quashing civil liberties. you go back to the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and we did some checking about that, the joint inquiry into intelligence community activities, and december of 2002. this was one of the conclusions. prior to 9/11 the intelligence community's ability to produce timely intelligence on counterterrorism was limited by nsa's failure to address modern communications technology aggressively, continuing conflict between intelligence community agencies, and this is important, nsa's cautious approach to any collection of intelligence relating to activities in the united states, and insufficient collaboration between the nsa and fbi regarding potential terrorist attacks in the united states. so after 9/11 the nsa was criticized for being too cautious, which is why we've got
these programs in the first place. isn't that true, senator chambliss? >> no question about it. i was very involved in the aftermath of september 11th as chairman of the house intelligence subcommittee on terrorism. and congresswoman jane harman from california, we did an investigation and found out exactly that, that nsa did not take advantage of the technology that is out there today, and had they done so, we'll never be able to say that we could have prevented 9/11 from happening, but certainly we weren't doing the things that we were capable of doing, to try to make sure that these bad guys don't have all the tools, and that we utilize the tools that we have to figure out what they're doing, what they're planning, and that we're able to interrupt and disrupt them. we've done that time and time again. i hope we're going to be able to be able to give the american
public examples of those over the next several days. but the fact is we know we've done that utilizing these tools. >> is there something that the public that does not know yet that you can share that's actually been disrupted? >> the two that the nsa has talked about, and they've allowed us to talk about are the zazi case that was generated out of the monitoring of phone calls under 702 initially, where we picked up on a phone call made from pakistan. into the united states. and then 215 was used after that to coordinate the ultimate monitoring and arrest of zazi who was headed to new york with backpacks loaded with bombs to blow up a new york subway system. the other incident is the david headley case. dual citizen, who was involved in the mumbai bombings.
and those two cases did -- we did pick up information in those two cases with the use of 702 primarily. particularly in the nazi case. also, there was coordinated use of 215. >> let me ask nor udall for reaction to what i showed you about the prior criticism of the nsa being too cautious, which is what led to these programs. >> david, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. i talked to coloradoans who want to understand why we're literally collecting millions of phone call data on a daily basis. my friend saxby points out how 702 helped us identify zazi and hedley and the plots they were generating. it makes sense to me that you then go get a warrant from the fisa court, for the meta data, to find out what that network is. what i'm proposing is to limit that collection in a way that keeps faith with the fourth amendment.
if you think about the fourth amendment, the king, when the founders wrote the bill of rights, could not only take your property and your treasure, but he could take your life and maybe most
precious of all your liberty. i think we owe it to the american people to have a debate in the open about the extent of these programs. you have a law interpreted by a secret court to generate a secret program. i just don't think this is an american approach to a world in which we have great threats. my number one goal is to protect the american people, but we can do it in a way that also protects our civil liberties. >> we'll leave it there this morning. senator chambliss, senator udall, thank you both very much. we'll talk about the president is handling all this and what the politics of all this are. how did we get to this point. of course, there were warnings back in 2001 about government overreach. is anybody listening? the former top spies, former
director of the cia and nsa, general michael hayden. director of the cia and nsa, general michael hayden. [ lorenzo ] i'm lorenzo. i work for 47 different companies. well, technically i work for one. that company, the united states postal service® works for thousands of home businesses. because at usps.com® you can pay, print and have your packages picked up for free. i can even drop off free boxes. i wear a lot of hats. well, technically i wear one. the u.s. postal service®, no business too small.
there was this and this. she got a parking ticket... ♪ and she forgot to pay her credit card bill on time. good thing she's got the citi simplicity card. it doesn't charge late fees or a penalty rate. ever. as in never ever. now about that parking ticket. [ grunting ] [ male announcer ] the citi simplicity card is the only card that never has late fees, a penalty rate, or an annual fee, ever. go to citi.com/simplicity to apply.
you will lose 3 sets of keys 4 cell phones 7 socks and 6 weeks of sleep but one thing you don't want to lose is any more teeth. if you wear a partial, you are almost twice as likely to lose your supporting teeth. new poligrip and polident for partials 'seal and protect' helps minimize stress, which may damage supporting teeth, by stabilizing your partial. and 'clean and protect' kills odor-causing bacteria. care for your partial. help protect your natural teeth.
"washington post." and our own andrea mitchell. general hayden, you have been in the thick of this debate in your past, as one of the nation's top spies. the politics of this are interesting, in terms of where the american people are. we'll put some of the polling on the screen. 56% believe that the secret court ordering, the tracking of calls of millions of americans, is something that is acceptable to the american people. do you think that still holds, will it hold as more information is known about it? >> i actually think as more accurate information is known about it, it will hold, and perhaps even expand. there's a natural instinct in the united states, a natural instinct by the way we cover these sorts of things to rush the story to the darkest corner of the room. but i don't think that's where this story belongs. as americans learn about the safeguards and effects, the products of this program, i think they'll become more comfortable. >> what has been misconstrued from your judgment, having
presided over these programs? what has been done that people don't understand? >> it's most unfortunate that both stories, p.r.i.s.m. and meta data story came out at the same time. those stories have been interwoven in a bunch of public discourse about it. the meta data story does touch upon americans in a massive way with phone records but not the content. the p.r.i.s.m. story is about foreigners. and it is about content. those things have become glued together, much to the harm of a rational national debate. >> i'm starting the conversation about the politics of all of this. congressman, you voted against the patriot act back in 2001. and we'll talk more about that. but president obama, as somebody who has presided over the expansion of these programs, had a much different outlook back in 2007 when he was running against effectively president bush. here's what he said back in august of 2007. >> this administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish, and the security we provide.
i will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our constitution, and our freedom. >> what surprised me, and i wonder what you think, that in light of all of this, he has not come out and said, you know what, i did criticize president bush over all those programs. and once i became president, my views changed. because i started to look at the threat assessment, and i was not willing to accept risk beyond a certain level. >> well, i think you complicate the entire discussion by saying it's president obama's position, or senator mccain's position, you just look at the issue. i think it's a lot easier to discuss. there's really two questions. one, whether you can collect all this data. that's an open question. whether all telephone records are relevant to an ongoing investigation. that's an open question. but more important, once you get the data, what can you do with it.
and that's -- this thing is not limited to terrorism. if it were limited to terrorism, i think the discussion would go away. it's not limited to terrorism. once you get the -- once the fbi gets the information, then the question is, who can look at it, what can you do with the information. i mean, there's a lot of stuff you can get if you just run through phone calls. somebody's calling escort service, an aids doctor, bankruptcy attorney, there's a lot of stuff that would be interesting to know about somebody. we just had a supreme court case that said that if you're accused of sexual assault, they can get your dna. once they've gotten it, and determined it wasn't you, so they have no information on you, they can -- they've got the dna. they can run it through the data base, just to see if you've committed a crime. now, they couldn't do that, they couldn't get the dna from you just to run it through. but once they've got it, they can use it.
now, the fbi has all this data. who can look into it and who gets to see all these reports about the phone calls? >> but jim ricin, as has been pointed out, there are a lot of concerns about what the government could do, but there's not actual evidence of abuse of these programs. is there? >> well, there's some limited -- >> i should point out you're reporting going back into the last decade, instrumental in revealing a lot of these programs during the bush years, at the very start. >> there's some limited evidence of abuse. it's been anecdotal. there's never been a thorough investigation inside the government of that. one of the problems going back to the bush administration was all of this was kept so secret, even after we began to report about it, that the inspectors general and the internal investigations were kept secret. so there's never been a full public accounting of the level of abuse, the level of --
there's virtually no transparency at all about how much of this has really caught up on american citizens. i think that's really one of the issues here. you've got the creation of a modern surveillance infrastructure with no debate publicly, except on an ad hoc basis when someone in the press reports about it. >> david? >> i don't think it's fair to say there's been no debate. after these programs were conducted without legal authority, essentially warrantless wiretapping under the bush administration, there was an effort to create this in law. so laws were passed by bipartisan majorities, two congresses under two presidents, and we now have these surveillance programs in place. a lot of congress people say, well, that's confusing. i couldn't ring my staff, i couldn't take notes, various reasons they don't know as much as they'd now like to. the point is this is now established in law. parts of these programs are
subject to review by the surveillance court, the supreme court actually refused to look at a part of this, which is in a sense affirming it. so this is our part of system of laws and legal procedures. that's what makes me nervous when somebody like edward snowden just willy-nilly throws it up in the air for people to see. we're a nation of laws. this is one of the laws. and it's generally speaking, it's good to follow our legal procedures, that's how we find things out. >> one of the things with edward snowden that's not resolved is how he had access to that court ruling, the fisa ruling. he had access to things that were not within his purview. what he said in his interview with "the guardian" is he could access anyone's e-mails, including the president of the united states if he had an e-mail address. what we discovered in going back and looking at his message boards when he first dropped out of school and looking around for a career before he got into the
army, before he was hired by the cia, he had a lot of provocative, sarcastic comments about the patriot act. you could tell that this was a very, very edgy guy. brilliant, undeniably, and i'm wondering how he got hired by the cia. not by the contractor that you're on years later, but he first got a top-secret clearance with the staff with the cia. >> all these private contractors having classified -- >> no, it's people of this personality type having access to this issue. >> what about the clearances? >> contractor or government employee, all right? it's not so much contractors. contractors don't grant themselves clearances. the government grants government employees, and government contractors clearances. so this is a government issue. david, remember, i said, as the people learn about the facts of the case, let me point out facts. snowden is wrong. he could not possibly have done
the things he claimed he was able to do in terms of tapping communications. five inspectors general looked at the program which you wrote about, and in a public report said there were no abuses. controversial program but no abuses. >> but snowden got into things you didn't know about. >> one more point, though. congressman, it's only terrorism. the only way you can access the meta data is through a terrorist predicate. >> where is that written? >> it's in the court order. it's in the broad structure -- >> but that's how you get the data. once the fbi has it, their practice is, and we asked the fbi director whether it's only used for terrorism and he said, yes, only for terrorism. the attorney general gonzalez said, well, we could use it for criminal investigations. you've got the information. >> the only reason we've been having these public debates, the only reason these laws have been passed, and that we're now having -- sitting here talking
about this is because of a series of whistle blowers. the government has never wanted any of this reported, never wanted any of it disclosed. if it was up to the government, over the last ten years, this surveillance infrastructure would have grown enormously with no public debate whatsoever. so every time we talk about how someone is a traitor for disclosing something, we have to remember the only reason we're talking about it is because -- >> it isn't the root of the problem, david ignatius, that congress, when they debated the patriot act after 9/11, everybody's feeling the rush of fear of 9/11. they pass the patriot act. they can't agree on any end point for the patriot act. it's reauthorized again in perpetuity. congressman, i know you voted against the patriot act, but congress doesn't seem to have the guts to say, we're going to set a date certain to reassess whether this is a state of security we want to remain in. >> you raise a good point,
david. the state of permanent anxiety that followed 9/11 should end. i think these programs, in the way that obama has pursued them, are an attempt to establish in law a set of rules the country can live with. and although general hayden would have preferred obviously we not have this debate and that these things remain secret, we're now in a debate that we'll have the useful consequence of people getting to make sensible decisions about the programs, do they really add to our security. it looks like the public thinks they do. are you willing to give up something to have that security. >> well, respond to jim, too. you, as head of the cia or nsa didn't want to -- >> you give up operational capacity the more these programs are known. honest men argue, oh, they knew you were doing that all the time. but they don't know the details. and actually, what i fear al qaeda learns about this program is not what we're allowed to do. but they learn what we're not allowed to do. and they learn the limits of the
program. and david, just one comment. the programs we're talking about here now, p.r.i.s.m. and the meta data program, we're established under the court, under president bush in 2006 and 2008. and although candidate obama had problems with it, president-elect obama was briefed on it and embraced them as they existed. >> general, one of the things that i think has been written about from both the left and right, peggy noonan wrote about it this weekend, is there is a lack of confidence in the government. which has evolved over a variety of administrations. so when you say trust me, this data, the meta data are stored and we're not going to go into it unless there's a court order, unless it's because of a terrorist plot, and if a judge orders that it's then turned over to the fbi and they can look at the content. we've got the numbers, but we're not looking, we're not reading. but people no longer after benghazi, after the irs certainly, and after a lot of other things, don't have confidence in their government.
and that is leading to a disaffection and disconnection going forward. it's very troubling. >> one of the things that really i think concerns people is that you've created something that never existed in american history before. and that is, a surveillance state. the infrastructure that -- basically using software technology and data mining and eavesdropping, very sophisticated technology to create an infrastructure that -- a police state level. that should concern americans. we haven't had a full national debate about the creation of a massive surveillance state, and surveillance infrastructure, that if we had some radical change in our politics, could lead to a police state. >> when we talk about the politics of this congressman, look at some of the more well-known leakers, or whistle blowers in our more recent history, going back to the pentagon papers, and silkwood,
bradley manning, julia assange. who in effect as a country do we like and who don't we like in this capacity? >> all leakers aren't good. and in this particular -- the law on leaking of classified information is murky. technically, it's not against the law to release classified information if it doesn't do any harm. it is illegal to release information that's sensitive, not even classified if it does do some harm. so the justice department has the burden of proving that snowden's release caused some harm. i think they ought to be able to do that. and therefore, it's illegal. it's very murky. but again, there's no separation between getting all this surveillance for fighting terrorism and you've got national intelligence -- foreign tej. foreign intelligence is going to have nothing to do with crime or
terrorism or -- it could be negotiating a trade deal. you can get a lot of this information. but once you get it, the nsa, the fbi is not going to look into it. >> but i'm asking the question here who's a journalist, what's real journalist activity versus what david referenced before, which is, we are a country where we shouldn't be comfortable with the idea of a 29-year-old disaffected contractor who is personally offended by a program. takes it upon himself to leak government secrets, and compromise what the government in three branches thinks is important. >> i think one of the reasons that's happened, and has repeatedly happened throughout the war on terror, is that the system, the internal system for whistle blowing, for watchdog and oversight system is broken. there is no good way for anyone inside the government to go through the chain of command and report about something like this. there's -- they all fear
retaliation. they fear prosecution. and so most whistleblowers, really, the only way they now have is to go to the press, or to go to someone outside, like snowden did. he chose people in the press to go to. he picked and chose who he wanted. but the problem is, people inside the system who try to go through the chain of command get retaliated against, punished, and they eventually learn not to do it anymore. >> they can go to congress, to the intelligence committees, to -- >> if you're in the attention community, if you're a low-ranking person in the tej intelligence committee in the house or senate, you will be going outside the normal bounds. >> he gave up his life. he didn't have to go to china. >> but that's a fixable problem, jim. >> he's now given the chinese such a weapon. they are now protesting in hong kong about hacking. >> general hayden, the final
point is, do you have to accept from your point of view that we're just not going to be quite as good at chasing the bad guys, or we have to accept some limits on this for the sake of bringing the american people along? >> david, for part of my life, when i was running the nsa program, i thought lawful, effective and appropriate were enough. by the time i got to the cia, i discovered i had a fourth requirement. and that's politically sustainable. by the time i got to the cia, i was of the belief that i would have to probably have to shave points off of operational effectiveness to inform enough people that we had the political sustainability and the comfort of the american population concerning what it was we were doing. so i think it's living in this kind of a democracy, we're going to have to be a little bit less effective in order to be a little bit more transparent to get to do anything to defend the american people. >> i want to take just a couple of minutes to switch gears a little bit, because it is father's day. which is an important day for me, to celebrate my dad and
celebrate the fact that i have kids and they make me so happy. so we wanted to start an online discussion which we did this morning on twitter and facebook. the idea of, what did your dad teach you, what do you hope your kids learn from you. i tweeted something last night, my dad taught me about dedication and perseverance. and i hope my kids feel encouraged by me and that they learn resilience. it's the kind of thing that i think has really gotten a conversation started. andrea, as you think about your dad. >> he's going to be 99 next month. he taught me to keep fighting to persevere no matter what, to keep strong, but character is the most important thing that counts. >> 99 is pretty impressive. and your dad, david, what a huge honor here at 92 years old. >> my dad, paul ignatius, who was 92, celebrated this last week at the pentagon. he's a world war ii combat veteran in the navy and served as navy secretary under president johnson. this week he brought his family
with him to the pentagon, where a ship was named in his honor. so when i look at my dad, i'm going to think "uss paul ignatius." happy father's day, pop. >> jim, good to see your boy with you today. >> my oldest son came with me this morning. he's having a good time watching us. >> yeah, yeah, absolutely. what do you think about your own upbr upbringing? >> my father was a railway clerk back when they still had those kind of things. but he always wanted to be a journalist but wasn't able to do it because of the depression. so he would be happy. >> my dad's 93. birthday this week. >> wow. >> he taught me about the importance of showing up. being tough and doing your job. happy father's day, dad. >> congressman? >> let me make one comment. to separate this entire discussion, terrorism and other stuff. i don't think we'd have as complicated a question. i don't think you have to shave
points on fighting terrorism. you do have to shave points if you're using it for criminal investigations, once you've got the information, going through it, for whatever reason. i think you'd have a different discussion developing this data base. don't tell me you're not going to use it for kidnapping or any other thing. once you start dipping into it, you're dipping into it. my father served on the newport news school board. the only african-american on the school board and served -- he was in office when brown v. board of education came down. being african-american, most of the votes were 4-1. he had a subcommittee of a five-member board. four members went to richmond to discuss the segregation and integration with the governor. you can imagine which one was left out. but being able to maintain decorum and keep fighting, whether you're on the losing end or not is something i learned. >> what i'm trying to learn as a parent, that even though it doesn't seem like it, your
parents are listening to you. it's very important that you're trying to say the right thing. we'll be back with more in just a moment. ah, so you're going to need some tools of your own. this battery will power over 50 tools. don't worry, i'll show you. in case i forget to say thank you. let's get together. grab some tools. and bring it in on budget. we did good. great job. now what? more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. this ryobi one+drill and impact driver combo kit, now just 99 bucks. bjorn earns unlimited rewards for his small business. take these bags to room 12 please. [ garth ] bjorn's small business earns double miles on every purchase every day. produce delivery. [ bjorn ] just put it on my spark card. [ garth ] why settle for less? ahh, oh! [ garth ] great businesses deserve unlimited rewards. here's your wake up call. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one and earn unlimited rewards. choose double miles or 2% cash back on every purchase every day. what's in your wallet? [ crows ]
[ whirring ] [ dog barks ] i want to treat more dogs. ♪ our business needs more cases. [ male announcer ] where do you want to take your business? i need help selling art. [ male announcer ] from broadband to web hosting to mobile apps, small business solutions from at&t have the security you need to get you there. call us. we can show you how at&t solutions can help you do what you do... even better. ♪ the world needs more energy. where's it going to come from? ♪ that's why right here, in australia, chevron is building one of the biggest natural gas projects in the world. enough power for a city the size of singapore for 50 years. what's it going to do to the planet? natural gas is the cleanest conventional fuel there is. we've got to be smart about this. it's a smart way to go. ♪
that is all for today. thank you all for a very informative discussion. the debate goes on. catch this week's conversation in the national review, rich lowry in his new interesting book on the leadership decisions of president lincoln, on our blog meetthepress.com. happy father's day to mine, yours, and all the dads out there. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."
a good sunday afternoon to you. i'm craig melvin. you're watching msnbc. the place for politics. here's what's happening right now. >> syria has become a powder keg for the region. >> assad needs to be removed. >> no-fly zone and other involvement may lead to the slippery slope that others talked about. >> questioning the strategy, fresh reaction to u.s. plans to arm syria's rebels. meanwhile, president obama travels tonight to the g-8 summit to talk about what's happening in syria. >> ultimately it's hard to see how nsa can be justified legally or morally. >> still in hiding, hundreds rally to support the man who revealed the u.s. surveillance program. news breaks thatdw